F1: Azer­bai­jan and Spain

Three poles on the trot for Vet­tel, but this was Baku. No one saw what was com­ing...

Car India - - CONTENTS - Re­port: Jim Gorde Pho­tog­ra­phy: DDPI

As the lights went out, Se­bas­tian Vet­tel stormed ahead from his third con­sec­u­tive pole po­si­tion, achieved only by be­ing a few tenths clear of reign­ing world cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton. Be­hind him, the first few tight cor­ners saw mul­ti­ple con­tacts with Kimi Raikko­nen run­ning into Este­ban Ocon, be­fore car­ry­ing on, while Sergey Sirotkin, Kevin Mag­nussen and Fer­nando Alonso all suf­fered bits of body­work losses. Pit-stops beck­oned for many. It was Ocon out; his ca­reer-sec­ond DNF. Safety Car. Ad­van­tage Valt­teri Bot­tas who had pit­ted just as the flags came out.

Safety Car pe­riod done with, it was four Re­naultengined cars — two of them Red Bulls — bat­tling for po­si­tion and a po­ten­tial podium. It wasn’t long be­fore Nico Hulken­berg found the wall; again. Out came the Safety Car. Ro­main Gros­jean man­aged to lose his Haas try­ing to keep his tyres warm while be­hind the Safety Car. This brought out both the crane and the

flat-bed, as the Safety Car crawled through the side of the wreck­age, the two Mercedes-AMGs and Fer­raris in tow.

The restart saw a frus­trated Vet­tel try and re­cover the lead from Bot­tas. The four-time cham­pion went in hot but ran wide, al­low­ing both Bot­tas, Raikko­nen through and even­tu­ally los­ing out to Hamil­ton, too. Be­hind them, the two Red Bulls were now within mil­lime­tres of each other over­tak­ing into cor­ners, slip­stream­ing and DRS ga­lore. How­ever, it was close one too many times, and, as the duo ap­proached the left-han­der after the straight, Max braked early, and Ric­cia­rdo, with nowhere to go, shunted right into his team-mate. Both Red Bulls out.

With three laps to go, race leader Bot­tas ran over some de­bris on track and suf­fered a punc­ture. As he pulled off, it was Hamil­ton who scored his best re­sult in Baku, with Raikko­nen sec­ond and Ser­gio Perez, who man­aged to get ahead of Vet­tel and stay there, third for Force In­dia..

Hamil­ton gets his first win in Baku, as does Ser­gio Perez

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